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‘Winter that never arrived’ nears end for Nordic countries

Northern European countries known for skiing and other snowy pursuits are poised to record one of the warmest winters ever after weeks of unseasonably high temperatures.

'Winter that never arrived' nears end for Nordic countries
Flooded fields in Himmerland, Denmark, on February 26th. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

In Sweden's capital Stockholm, cherry trees bloomed in January as much of the country recorded temperatures six to seven degrees Celsius higher than normal since December.

“It is the warmest winter in recorded history in southern and central Sweden,” the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) said in a statement to AFP.

Sweden's neighbours Norway, Denmark and Finland have also seen high temperatures.

Some companies have practically given away ski suits, bonnets and other winter attire well before the season ends.

In Uppsala, about 70 kilometres north of Stockholm, this is the warmest winter since 1722, or nearly 300 years.

Across the border in Finland, more than half of the country recorded the mildest January ever. Temperatures were seven to eight degrees higher than average, the country's meteorological institute said.

Norway experienced its mildest winter since record keeping began in 1900. Temperatures exceeded the seasonal norm by 4.5 degrees.

The same goes for Denmark, the southernmost country in the region. Winter, which officially ended on the last day of February, saw temperatures that were five degrees above normal.

“If this winter remains etched in the collective memory, it will be as the winter which never arrived,” said Mikael Scharling, of the Danish Meteorological Institute.

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Unusual in places that are wild about winter sports, capitals like Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki saw little to no snow in January.

“We have just experienced the first Jan-Feb period on record without any measurable snow in Helsinki,” said Mika Rantanen, of the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

“I think that is quite extraordinary,” Rantanen said.

A figurehead in the campaign against climate change, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg has taken to Twitter to voice her concerns.

“Stockholm just experienced its warmest winter ever recorded (since measures began 1756),” Thunberg tweeted.

It has also been one of the wettest winters across northern Europe.

Seventy percent more precipitation than normal hit Norway, according to theNorwegian Meteorological Institute.

Sweden has also suffered.

“The worst flooding is in the southwest parts of Sweden, where a lot of farm land… is soaked in water,” said Ulf Wallin, spokesman for Sweden's agriculture federation LRF.

“For many farmers the autumn sowing of winter wheat has been destroyed,”Wallin said.

“The warm winter can leach the soil and we even have seen plants begin to bloom that we never seen so early before.”

If the situation improves, the LRF expects to see normal crop yields for 2020 but still lower than those in 2019.

In Denmark, floods today threaten nearly half a million buildings across the country and much farmland but exact figures have yet to be tallied.

 

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WEATHER

How much will it snow in Denmark this weekend?

Winter weather arrived in spectacular fashion to coincide with the beginning of December this week. The weekend could bring more snow to parts of the country but probably less disruption than recent days.

Parts of Denmark have seen heavy snow in early December.
Parts of Denmark have seen heavy snow in early December. Photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Recent snowstorms disrupted North Jutland in particular and Denmark in general, and more cold weather can be expected this weekend albeit severe, according to forecasts.

“We won’t see the Ragnarok-like weather we’ve seen in some places recently again this weekend, but it’s now winter weather and it has also snowed in several places overnight,” said meteorologist Frank Nielsen of the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI).

READ ALSO: IN PICTURES: Early December blizzards disrupt Denmark

Cold weather on Friday and a low front across the North Sea will bring clouds and precipitation across Denmark from the west, Nielsen said.

That will materialise as cold rain or sleet in many areas but probably snow in North Jutland, he said.

“There could be between five and ten centimetres of snow north of the Limfjord,” the meteorologist said, referring to the waterway that cuts across the northern part of Jutland, including main regional city Aalborg.

“In the southern part of the country, an equivalent five to ten centimetres of rain could fall,” he added.

Friday’s temperature will be between freezing point and five degrees Celsius, with the north of the country falling in to the lower end of that range and the south the warmer end.

Mist and fog is forecast this evening, caused by various weather fronts moving over Denmark.

That could still be felt on Saturday morning, though it is likely to be a little warmer at 2-6 degrees Celsius. Mild winds could make that fell chiller, but snow is unlikely.

Sunday will see the temperature drop again, to 0-4 degrees Celsisu. Snow is possible, particularly on eastern coasts.

Strong winds in the east of the country and along the coasts will result in a “rather cold 24 hours,” Nielsen said.

Nighttime temperatures are expected to drop below zero throughout the weekend. Motorists are therefore warned to be alert to icy road surfaces.

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